SCOTUS punts PASPA: The parlay party of sports betting legalization beginsBy John L. Smith, CDC Gaming ReportsMay 14, 2018 at 7:56 pmMonday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn the federal ban on sports betting should set off a celebration in the highest offices of Gaming Inc. that makes the Mardi Gras look like a church picnic.It wasn’t necessarily a landmark decision, but it certainly starts a new era in the history of legalized gambling in America. The industry’s last pariah activity is finally fading.The constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was in question from its first draft forward. The state of New Jersey passed legislation in 2014 to legalize sports betting well knowing it was in direct conflict with PASPA. Its legal play book produced a methodical end zone-to-end zone march that culminated in a successful December appearance before the high court. (How’s that for some sports jargon?)But, well, in its decision the court reminded fans and foes alike that it wasn’t in the business of legalizing sports betting – just in assessing the constitutionality of the law.From the decision: “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”You’re unlikely to find any team jerseys under those black robes. Not that many people can hear me at this moment over the sound of celebration.To no surprise, American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman took the decision as an opportunity to continue the industry’s lobbying effort to establish legalized sports betting on a national level. But read the words carefully.“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner,” Freeman said, pointing to a survey sponsored by The Washington Post that found, “a solid 55 percent of Americans believe it’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting.”A “solid” 55 percent?Frankly, considering all surveys come with a margin of error, it doesn’t sound all that solid.It’s also hard to know whether that number, which isn’t all that impressive considering the industry’s full-court marketing effort, reflects a growing interest in the issue – or a lack of attention being paid to an activity so many millions of Americans participate in illegally without losing much sleep.Not sure if anyone is listening, but it won’t be a panacea.Don’t know if anyone wants to hear it, but it’s unclear how many school books or new roads can be built from a tax on sports betting with its small net profit margins.Oh, never mind.“Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others,” Freeman said. “The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders – states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement – to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”With two-thirds of the states preparing for PASPA’s repeal, and gaming industry experts preparing for rapid expansion, the parlay party is about to be taken on the road.At the risk of sounding a dissonant note, the industry needs to proceed with substantial caution.If the AGA and the casino titans are truly wise, they’ll remain patient and redouble their efforts to ensure Nevada’s legal sports book industry sparkles with regulatory compliance. They’ll especially want to focus on knowing their customers and following clearly established anti-money laundering standards.To do less is to invite an early end to a party that’s, finally, just beginning.Contact John L. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.